Indianapolis Colts(5-6SU,5-5-1ATS) vs.New York Jets(3-8SU,4-7ATS)
Date/Time:Monday, December 5 at 8:30PMEST
Point Spread:INDY -1.5/NYJ +1.5
Its put up or shut time for the NFL playoff wannabes and wins in December always seem to mean more as teams build toward the post-season. The Indianapolis Colts have a Monday Night date in East Rutherford with the Jets this week and there is plenty on the line for the visitors. The Colts sit one game under .500 but trail division leading Houston by just one game and can pull even with the 6-6 Titans should they win. Indy is coming off a mini-bye week after playing on Thanksgiving and that extra time has helped get Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton back in better health. The Jets have found numerous ways to lose this season but they are a team that has played good teams close and they could be a massive thorn in the Colts side if they prove victorious.
This game opened as a pickem but the early week betting pushed the Colts to a 1.5 point favorite. About 54% of the public money is on Indy and they have been good on the road with nine ATS wins in the last eleven when they face a sub-.500 opponent in their building. They are also 4-1 against the spread in the last five following an ATS loss as is the case after last week. The Sagarin ranking have these teams close with the Colts at 26th and the Jets at 28th but New York has faced the 5th toughest schedule while Indys is the 5th weakest. Sags new offense-defense method has only been around for a few weeks but Im sure this is the first time that those metrics are calling for a tie with 25.24 as the predicted score for both teams. The analytics are showing the Jets as roughly one point favorites so the current line is bucking what the computers are spitting out.
The Colts took a tough loss on Thanksgiving without Andrew Luck. Scott Tolzien filled in pretty well for the concussed Luck but Indy could not put enough offense together to topple the Steelers. They had won three of four leading into Turkey Day, including two wins against Tennessee, but the loss to Pittsburgh makes this one much more must-win considering the Jets 3-8 record. The Colts will get Luck back by all accounts and he is the big reason why they rank 11th in passing and 12th in points scored at 24.5 per game. The O-line has not been up to par however, allowing 38 sacks to this point and the Colt running backs are under four yards per carry behind some pedestrian blocking at best. Luck will likely have to do the heavy lifting again Monday Night as New York is 4th against the run but just 22nd against the pass.
Despite the dismal showing this season, the Jets have tried to tease that they are a good team by losing close games. During their current three game losing streak, they lost by four in Miami, by three to LA and most recently by just five to New England. That has to signal that this team is capable of winning but the formula seems to elude the Jets in the end. New York did get the best of this matchup last year by holding Indy scoreless through three quarters and picking off Luck three times on the way to a 20-7 win. That probably seems like forever ago to Jets fans but most of the principals players are the same so maybe the Jets can duplicate the hard-nosed defensive effort that limited the Colts so effectively last year.
Ryan Fitzpatrick will need to return to his 2015 form if everyone wants to go home happy. Fitzy has not played well for long stretches of this season and enters the week with more interceptions than touchdown passes. The Jets have fallen to 28th in points scored at 17.8 per game and they often struggle to stay on the field with a 38% conversion rate on third down. Matt Forte has been a steady performer during his first season as a Jet but his 3.8 yards per carry average suggests he is not a big play threat. Indy is 23rd against the run and allows 4.6 yards per carry so Forte and Bilal Powell should see some running room but that might not automatically lead to a bunch of points. Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa are massive targets at the wide receiver spots but this team is missing a top-tier playmaker and also the variety of options that most good teams have. If Indy can limit Forte and Marshall, they should have a pretty easy go of it.
Indianapolis offense is that bit more diverse and therefore tougher to defend. We know what Luck can bring with his arm but he also is and underrated runner. He can extend a play for the purpose of going downfield with the pass or rush for a first down when needed. Frank Gore isnt much more than a plodder these days but he knows where he is supposed to be and is still able to get the tough yards. T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief have each caught five touchdown passes and it is nearly impossible to hold that duo down all night. If the Jets do commit to taking them away from Luck, Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle have the ability to burn a defense underneath and over the middle. New York has only notched 19 sacks so far which is a big plus for an Indy team that has struggled to keep its QBs upright.
I think that Indy does have an advantage coming off a longer than usual week, especially as it relates to the health of their injured stars. Luck and Hilton being back at full health is so big for the Colts and the Jets are on the other side of the coin with multiple injuries in their secondary. Indy is far from perfect but they play the kind of style that exposes the weaknesses of the Jets and the normally porous Colt defense is helped by facing a rather unimpressive offense. There isnt much to play for in New York these days and coming off an emotional week against the Patriots probably puts them at risk for a letdown effort rather than a bounce-back one. Indy needs this win badly and knows that their season is alive and well with a W. I expect a close game through three but the Luck to Hilton and Moncrief connections will eventually pay off with a 27-20 win.
EvergreensPick to Cover the Point Spread:Indianapolis
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